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Posts Tagged ‘cornbread’

It is our 2012 New Year’s resolution to resurrect the blog!

Let me catch you up: I moved to Denver and got married (no biggie).  Jenny moved across the country and got a new job (as did her hubby).  So, between those life changing events and a family emergency or two, we were busy little bees this year! But enough excuses – let’s talk about the thing that is so near and dear to everyone’s heart – food.

We last left you with a post about the 1st Annual Drogue Holiday party.  I am proud to report that our 2nd annual Drogue Holiday party was also a success.  And since we left you last year at Christmas time, it’s fitting that we pick up where we left off – at New Year’s.

Every New Year’s day, Mimi opened her home to anyone who was interested in some simple “good luck” black eyed peas.  According to my Mary Mac’s Tea Room cookbook (thanks, Dad!,) this Southern tradition dates back to the Civil War.   Apparently Union troops would strip the land of all stored food and destroy whatever they couldn’t carry with them.  The  Northern soldiers didn’t consider “field peas” a suitable source of food.  So these “field peas” became known for good luck!

Seasoned with salt pork and hog jowls or pork hocks, Mimi served her peas over white rice, and topped them with stewed tomatoes.  The goal is to eat at least 12 peas (one for luck during each month in the year).  Happily, this goal isn’t hard to attain.  Mimi also served her famous cornbread as a sopping accessory (with jalapeno or strawberry jam) as well as fresh scallions to gnaw on/freshen your breath.

So this year, we will carry on the tradition.

 

Black-Eyed Peas
Adapted From Mary Mac’s Tea Room

1 small smoked ham hock
5 ounces of fatback (salt pork)
1 small yellow onion, diced
4 cups dried black-eyed peas
1/2 teaspoon of white pepper

Bring a stockpot two-thirds full with water to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add the ham hock, fatback, and onion and return to a rolling boil.  Add the black-eyed peas and let cook, uncovered for approximately 1 hour, or until the black-eyed peas are tender.  Add salt and pepper if desired.  Serve with slotted spoon over white rice, and top with stewed tomatoes.  See below for recipe.

Mom and I have debated about whether Mimi used canned tomatoes or whether she blanched tomatoes and stewed them fresh.  I can specifically remember Mimi teaching me to blanch tomatoes. I can’t imagine why she would have been doing that except for a recipe that called for stewed tomatoes.  We came to the conclusion that Mimi used canned tomatoes (sometimes her own and sometimes store-bought) just because it would be tough to find good tomatoes in December.  So, the choice is yours.

In case you need a quick 101 on blanching: bring some water to a boil, add the tomatoes for a minute or 2, remove and immediately submerge in cold water.  This makes the tomatoes really easy to peel, core, and seed.

Dried black eyed peas

Salt pork and pork hock

 

Stewed Tomatoes
2-3 cans of diced tomatoes, or 8-10 whole tomatoes, blanched and diced
1 onion – diced
Dash of white vinegar
A few pinches of sugar
1/2 stick of butter
tomato paste (optional)

Cook the diced onions in butter for quite some time.  You want the onions to begin to brown so that they take on that really sweet buttery flavor.  Add the tomatoes and stew for a while.  You may want to add a spoonful of tomato paste depending on the thickness.  Add vinegar and sugar to taste.  The tomatoes should take on a tangy taste.  Stew for 30-40 minutes.  This can be done ahead of time.

Happy 2012!

Happy 2012!!!

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Dan and I moved to Kirkwood about six weeks ago.  Our house came with two stray cats, tomato plants and morning glories, and across-the-street neighbors who run a car repair shop from their house.   Our street boasts a plaque declaring “The Battle of Atlanta began here,” near which throngs of high school students doing their best Kanye West and Rhianna impressions catch the bus to and from school each morning.  Kirkwood is a perfect example of the tensions and juxtapositions of living in Atlanta: on one corner is a bright, shiny new store selling $30 plastic mugs, cutesy yard art, and sandwiches made fresh with name-brand meats and cheese; opposite is a local minute-mart in an old brick building, the original fifties-style sign faded but holding above the barred windows, advertising lotto tickets, money orders, candy bars, and sodas.

I love it here.

We’ve been exploring on walks in the newly crisp fall air.  Yesterday we checked out Spades Kountry Kookin’ in the “downtown” area of Kirkwood and decided to stop for lunch.  Spades is open for three meals a day, seven days a week and serves Southern food cafeteria-style.  I love sharing this kind of food with my Israeli-Californian-Buffalonian partner.  He loves it, too.  I had the veggie plate:

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It was delicious – I was surprised at how good it was.  There are a lot of restaurants calling themselves “country” or “Southern” out there, serving a lot of bad food: oversalted, undersalted, drowning in butter (or – eegads! – margarine), overcooked, made from unappealing processed ingredients.  But Spades’ food is quite to the contrary –  fresh, well-seasoned, made with high-quality ingredients and not drowned in butter, thus not too heavy.  It reminded me of my grandmother’s cooking – except, as I told Dan, “Mimi never made macaroni and cheese.”  Famous last words.

Thinking of Mimi’s cooking, I ticked through the recipes I wanted to try to recreate: Devil’s food cake with sea-foam frosting, ice box cookies, cornbread sticks… Mimi is still with us, but the high heyday of her cooking is probably done.  Everything she makes is still wonderful – it’s just simpler and she often has help.  I wondered if other family members would remember dishes I had forgotten that they couldn’t wait to taste again.  Lo and behold, from my mom: macaroni and cheese.  Apparently Mimi did make it once upon a time and, no surprise, it was so good that its memory has survived these many decades.

This brings us to The Mimi Project.  Here on the blog, Rach and I will attempt to recreate the wonderful recipes that, to my mind, are our most valuable family heirlooms.  This will be a recurring series and we’ll let you know when that’s what we’re up to (not that you’d have much trouble figuring it out).  The recipe requests we collected ended up being not just for Mimi’s cooking, but also recipes of Aunt NoNo, Uncle Doe, and our beloved Granddaddy, all of whom are no longer with us.

We have our work cut out for us:

  • Mimi’s Birthday Cake
  • Mimi’s Ice-box Cookies
  • NoNo’s Divinity
  • Mimi’s Cornbread Sticks
  • Mimi’s Chicken and Dumplings
  • Mimi’s Cornbread Stuffing with Giblet Gravy
  • Mimi’s Chicken Salad
  • Mimi’s Black Bean Soup
  • Mimi’s Vegetable Soup
  • Mimi’s Crab Dip
  • Granddaddy’s Pepper Vinegar
  • Mimi’s Cake with Lemon Cheese (Nick’s birthday cake)
  • Mimi’s Macaroni and Cheese
  • Mimi’s Home-Grown-and-Canned Green Bean Salad with Purple Onion and Italian Dressing
  • Granddaddy’s Cheese Crackers
  • Granddaddy’s Pecans
  • Granddaddy’s Chicken with Lemon, Butter and Worcestershire
  • Mimi’s Pimiento Cheese
  • NoNo’s Blackberry (or Quince or Grape) Jelly
  • Doe’s Fried Eggplant
  • Doe’s (and Grandmother Wheeler’s) Thin Cornbread

Here’s Mimi on the porch at a recent family reunion with Theresa and Maggie:

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And here’s to The Mimi Project.

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